Looking back over our photos of our visit to the West MacDonnell Ranges and Central Australia I feel so lucky to have seen the rich colours and contrasts with my own eyes. We found there was limited information around accessibility in the region and we hope by providing information and photos it may encourage others with a mobility restriction, or wheelchair, to give it a go. I have a special place in my heart for this gorgeous part of our country. You really need to experience it in person, it’s hard to explain the feeling you get when there. We were surprised and delighted by how much we could manage with BJ’s wheelchair. I’ll be sharing several posts detailing the different stops which are the most accessible.
The West MacDonnell Ranges is an easy day trip from Alice Springs on a sealed road. We set out early, wanting to have plenty of time exploring at each stop. It was a workout for Hubby who lifted the wheelchair in and out of our four-wheel drive hire car. Touring days are often tiring but this day delivered good value for the effort with spectacular scenery.
Simpsons Gap (also known as Rungutjirpa) is only 18 km from Alice Springs and was the first stop of many along the Larapinta Drive. If you’ve only got a brief time in Alice Springs and want a taste of the West MacDonnell Ranges this is a quick trip from town. It’s easily combined with a visit to the Alice Springs Desert Park as they are close together.
The Gap is only a short walk from the carpark and although not all of the track is wheelchair accessible, enough of it is, to make it a worthwhile stop. You’ll get a good view of the gorge and be able to appreciate the towering red rock walls and sandy river bed.
The track is hard-packed graded dirt track with a few stray stones here and there but manageable with a wheelchair. BJ’s off-road tyres helped ensure BJ had a smooth ride up until we got to the stairs. Hubby bumped the wheelchair down to get BJ as close as possible to the end of the track. We were determined to get him as far along the track as possible. We made it to the end but it definitely required some four-wheel driving of the chair over the stairs and rocks.
Even though the black-footed rock-wallabies blend in with the rocky slopes on either side of the creek, we managed to spot several. They were certainly popular with the overseas tourists doing the walk.
It should be remembered this is more than a tourist attraction. Simpsons Gap is an important spiritual site to the Arrarnta Aboriginal people, where several dreaming trails and stories cross. Simpsons Gap is a gorge which has been carved out of the West MacDonnell Ranges by Roe Creek, where water flows through a small gap in the range.
Although there are several walks in the area we only did the walk to the Gap.